CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine expressed optimism that the Cleveland Indians will sign a long-term lease extension for Progressive Field with the city.
The team’s current lease is set to expire in 2023.
On Tuesday, DeWine said he plans to ask for state funding to renovate the 27-year-old downtown ballpark, which opened in 1994 and is owned by Cuyahoga County. DeWine did not say how much money the state would allocate for upgrades and any renovations.
DeWine believes the team is “moving toward” a 15-year extension.
With the lease nearing its end, owner Paul Dolan slashing the team’s payroll over the past year and seeking a minority owner, there has been speculation the Indians could be planning a move — something Clevelanders fear after the Browns bolted in 1995.
But DeWine said owner Dolan “is committed to Cleveland” and there are no plans to relocate.
Indians spokesman Curtis Danburg released a statement calling the lease “a complex, multi-faceted agreement for our public/private partnership.”
He added the Indians “want those involved to have the time needed to conduct a thorough review with the future in mind. It’s premature to comment on any aspect beyond that at this point in time.”
Beyond the lease situation, the Indians are in the midst of changing their name for the first time since 1915. While there is no definitive time frame on the change, the team has made steady progress as it considers possible options that are being tested for logos, word marks and other branding.
On the field, the Indians have managed to stay competitive this season despite a rash of injuries, including one to reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, who was chosen as an All-Star but will not play in this year’s event in Denver.
The Indians, who hit the break on a three-game winning streak after dropping nine in a row, will open a three-game series in Oakland on Friday.
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Tom Withers, The Associated Press